Internal Displacement is “Invisible,” “Overshadowed” in Global Policy

Despite the fact that internally displaced persons “outnumber refugees by around two to one,” internal displacement continues to be overlooked globally by policy-makers and humanitarian aid budgets, according to the 2017 Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID).

The GRID, released this month, features a spotlight on displacement in El Salvador by Executive Director Noah Bullock. El Salvador is “second in terms of new displacements [in 2016] relative to population size,” writes Noah. He notes that a vast majority of those displacements are caused by gang violence, including “murder, torture, forced disappearances, rape, sexual exploitation and threats to exercise control over territories and populations.”

However, Noah points out, there is no “national strategy, legislative or policy framework in place to…address” the problem.

To compound the issue, displaced persons rarely report the circumstances that caused them to flee their homes. Victims often fear additional violence from organized criminal groups, or mistrust authorities’ motives and ability to help. This is not surprising, considering Noah’s explanation that government “security forces have allegedly perpetrated extrajudicial executions, physical abuse, sexual harassment and mass arrests” in the name of subduing criminal activity.

On a global scale, the 129-page report takes a big-picture look of the number of people displaced by conflict and disaster in different countries. The report also discusses how “internal displacement has been sidelined in recent global policy processes and is overshadowed by the current focus on refugees and migrants.” The final section of the report points to reliable data as an essential driver toward the future visibility and prioritization of internal displacement.

The GRID is sponsored by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre and the Norwegian Refugee Council. The full report can be found here.

Hannah Rose Nelson